Who Can Replace Urban?
How do you replace Urban Meyer?
How did you replace Steve Spurrier?
It's Florida, it's a monster, and yes, it's bigger than any one head
coach, but it's still asking for the world to replace a legendary
producer like Meyer. After Spurrier left, the program unleashed Ron Zook
into the college football consciousness, and while it didn't work out,
he recruited well enough to lay the foundation for a coach of Meyer's
caliber to step in win a national title.
To the next head ball coach at the University of Florida: Merry
Zook was fired with a well-stocked pantry. Meyer is leaving with a
loaded warehouse of goodies for the next head man. There will be no
grace period. There will be no time for adjustments. There will be no
There will be no five-year plan. There will be no reason to cut the next
guy any slack. There will be no excuses.
This isn't Brian Kelly walking into Notre Dame, saying he wants to win
right away, but everyone with a brain knowing that it's going to take a
few years. This isn't Rich Rodriguez going to Michigan a few years ago,
with the program needing to change from IBM to Apple and needing to
undergo a total overhaul in philosophies. This is a team and a program
that can and should demand a national title next year. That's how much
talent Meyer has amassed.
Any coach worth his salt should be dreaming of this job and this
opportunity, and athletic director Jeremy Foley should have his pick of
the beauty queens. There's no need to go with another reach, like Zook,
and there's no need to go after a guy just because he has ties to the
program or might fit. Any good coach can fit in with the resources that
will be at his disposal, however, the gig might not be for everyone.
Every head coaching job is stressful, but this would be a true pressure
cooker. The expectations are going to be through the roof from Day One
to not only win, but to try to continue to success of Urban Meyer. 2010
was the rebuilding year; 2011 is when it's supposed to all pay off no
matter who's at the helm.
So who are the top candidates to fill the spot? Going from the obvious
to the surreal ...
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State head coach
After what he did making MSU a player in the SEC, and with the
way he's able to recruit, he would be the best fit to come in and build
on what Meyer has done. I Mullen could do what he did in Starkville, he
might be able to do wonders in Gainesville. The former Gator offensive
coordinator was the Tebow whisperer early on, and he knows how to run
the spread that brought so much success to the program. He left on the
best of terms and didn't burn any bridges, and not even MSU would be too
upset if Mullen made the jump. Already in the mix for the Miami job, MSU
is a stop-gap for Mullen. However, while Mississippi State and Mullen
come out as the clean whistle blowers in the Cam Newton situation, there
might be a thought that the entire controversy is too toxic to touch
right now and there might be some consideration to breaking ties from
the Meyer pack and starting out new.
ODDS ON MULLEN GETTING THE GIG: 10-1.
Charlie Strong, Louisville head coach
The former Florida defensive coordinator is widely respected as
a recruiter, a coach, and by the Gator program. There was some thought
that he'd be the one to take over for Meyer after the first resignation,
but the timing wasn't right and he had to bail for Louisville, where he
instantly turned the program around and did a phenomenal job with the
defense. He's a star in the making, but Louisville isn't going to be too
helpful to let him go after just one great year.
ODDS ON STRONG GETTING THE GIG: 20-1
Chris Petersen, Boise State head coach
The writing might be on the wall. He might be a
true-blue-blue-turf believer, but Boise State hit its ceiling. This was
the year when it was supposed to happen, and it didn't, and while the
move to the Mountain West was supposed to be the big move needed to make
the Broncos a bigger national player, the conference is gutted without
Utah, BYU, and now, TCU. It's a lateral move from the WAC. While
Petersen has made no noise whatsoever about leaving, his pay of about
$1.5 million per year would be doubled instantly if he took over at
Florida. The concern, though, is that Boise State coaches have been
colossal flame-outs when they got their chance in the sun. Dirk Koetter
at Arizona State and Dan Hawkins at Colorado were puzzlingly mediocre.
ODDS ON PETERSEN GETTING THE GIG: 30-1
Kyle Whittingham, Utah head coach
Meyer went from being great at Utah to a legend at Florida.
Whittingham isn't Meyer, but he's a very good, very sound head coach who
took what Meyer started even further. Could he do the same for Florida?
It might seem like it would make sense, but this isn't the time to make
a big jump with Utah about to go to the Pac 12. Whttingham is the type
who might like to make Utah his program as it makes the next step
forward rather than be a shoe-filler.
ODDS ON WHITTINGHAM GETTING THE GIG: 50-1
Brady Hoke, San Diego State head coach
Ball State was one of the worst programs in college football.
Hoke came up with a 12-0 regular season. San Diego State was one of the
most mediocre programs in college football and was stuck in the mud as
coach after coach tried and failed to capitalize on all the positives
the program had to offer from location, weather, to the recruiting base.
Hoke turned the place around in a blink and made it one of the stars of
the Mountain West. He's a rising star, and of all the possible
candidates, he's the one who could take what's already in place - most
notably a passing quarterback in John Brantley - and make it a champion
ODDS ON HOKE GETTING THE GIG: 75-1
ODDS ON THE FIELD: 3-1
No, Jim Harbaugh isn't leaving Stanford for Florida. He's destined for
the pros, but he's probably sticking around The Farm for at least
another year. No, Jon Gruden isn't going to be a college head coach.
There an NFC West job with his name on it. No, no one named Stoops will
be in the mix, Will Muschamp isn't leaving Texas, and Gary Patterson,
who seems happy making his mark at TCU and taking it to the Big East,
isn't exactly the right fit. And no, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio
won't get the bump like he was supposed to get last year. His job was
hanging by a thread after the 2010 collapse, and Gator Nation won't be
him getting the full-time job this time around.
Foley won't pull a Ron Zook. The job is too big and too good to take a
flier, and it's going to be a big, splashy name taking over (even if
it's a top coordinator like Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart,
who's a big, splashy name in the college football world).
One thing's for sure, though, Miami and Pitt, your vacant coaching jobs
just got pushed down a notch.